The media outlets are gushing with the “research”/marketing spinoff of the JUPITER trial, an analysis conducted by Dr. Erica Spatz of Yale University, that suggests that statin use should be expanded to many millions more Americans.
USA Today: Study: 11M more should get statins
You may recall that the JUPITER trial (discussed previously in a Heart Scan Blog post) studied the cardiovascular event risk in people with “normal” LDL cholesterols (calculated, of course, not measured) of 130 mg/dl or less, along with increased c-reactive protein, a crude inflammatory measure, of 2.0 mg/dl or greater. A 54% (relative) reduction in cardiovascular events occured in the group taking Crestor 20 mg per day.
What I see is a confluence of events that have brought us to the “statin drugs are necessary for everybody” mentality:
–The low-fat diet advice of the last 40 years has increased non-fat or low-fat foods that increase LDL, since removing fat from the diet provokes small LDL particle production and increases the inflammatory measure, c-reactive protein (CRP).
–The proliferation of “healthy whole grains” in the diet have also caused an enormous boom in small LDL particles, which is interpreted to the uninformed as “high cholesterol.” It has also provoked CRP substantially.
–The advice to reduce salt intake has brought a broad re-emergence of iodine deficiency. When thyroid hormone production flags due to lack of iodine, LDL cholesterol (both large and small) increase.
–Our lives, which are increasingly conducted indoors, have worsened the already substantial vitamin D deficiency. While deficiency of vitamin D primarily reduces HDL cholesterol and increases triglycerides, it can also cause an increase in small LDL and a large increase in CRP.
In other words, a collection of events have converged to provide the appearance of high LDL cholesterol and high CRP. This creates the appearance of a “need” for statin drugs. The JUPITER trial now exploits both the LDL-reducing and CRP-decreasing effects of statins.
I view the foisting of Crestor via the JUPITER argument on the public as taking full advantage of the helpless situation many Americans find themselves in: Reduce fat intake, eat more healthy whole grains and . . . cholesterol and CRP skyrocket! “You need Crestor! See, I told you it was genetic,” says the doctor after attending the nice AstraZeneca-sponsored drug dinner.
The notion of using a drug like Crestor to suppress inflammatory patterns is absurd. There are far better, easier, cheaper ways to achieve this goal, along with dramatic reduction in cardiovascular risk. But, to the ignorant, the helpless, or non-compliant with real change in diet and lifestyle, then Crestor does serve a purpose.
I can only hope that the excessive pushing of statin drugs on the public will sooner or later trigger a revolt.
Change your life in 60 seconds